Neither Wesley Burns (pictured above, left) nor Antoine Toussaint (pictured above, right) came from money, but together they've already built their Seattle practice to $180 million in assets under management — with plenty of runway to grow.
Burns, 34, and Toussaint, 37, are best friends and certified financial planners (CFPs) who formally teamed up in January of 2019 to create Burns, Toussaint & Associates. Less than 3.5% of about 80,000 financial planners are African American or Latino, according to the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning.
'There aren't a lot of black-owned wealth management firms out there, certainly not of our size,' Burns said. 'We are continuing to try to grow something special.'
The team recently joined LPL Financial's broker-dealer and corporate RIA platforms from Northwestern Mutual. They're also aligning with the Financial Services Network, an office of supervisory jurisdiction (OSJ) affiliated with LPL.
'The biggest thing we wanted was ownership and the ability to create and control the experience for the end user,' Toussaint said. 'LPL really appealed to us because of their embracement of technology and because they view us as their client and let us run the business as we see fit.'
The duo said the majority of their business is advisory, with about 95% of their clients fee-based. Ultimately, they hope to build the largest black-owned wealth management practice in the state of Washington.
Burns and Toussaint said part of that process is going to include hiring a practice management consultant to help define the team's roles, add CFPs and help with client acquisition and retention. Their practice currently includes office support from Joleen Powell and Dajeanne Washington.
'We are really looking to take on 25 to 35 clients a year, but in addition to that, run our business in a way that’s sustainable for years to come,' Toussaint said.
Burns and Toussaint said they're focused on growing organically for now but wouldn't rule out growth by M&A in the future.
Burns said they're in the process of merging their clients to become firm clients, not just 'Wes or Antoine clients.' He added his clients tend to be closer to retirement or in retirement while Toussaint's clients skew younger and work primarily in the technology sector.
'We feel like that’s the best of both worlds,' Burns said. 'Retired clients tend to have more assets while tech clients are still growing their assets.'
Burns and Toussaint met in college, at Seattle University, in 2004. They immediately hit it off.
'He was the best man at my wedding and he’s my daughter’s godfather,' Burns said of his partner. 'We've been each other’s rock a lot of the time as we've tried to build out the practice.'
Before their departure, Burns had been with Northwestern Mutual since 2007. Toussaint had been with the firm since 2008, having previously worked at Morgan Stanley for less than a year.
Rich Steinmeier, LPL’s managing director and divisional president, business development, said in a statement: ‘We welcome Antoine and Wesley and their team to the LPL family. Their commitment and belief in each other is inspiring. We are proud they have chosen to partner with LPL as they work toward creating a business that can help their clients build lasting wealth.’